Art News

Kobi Walsh: Step Into An Immersive World at The Other Art Fair Chicago

The Other Art Fair Chicago is back this September at Revel Fulton Market in a beautiful new venue! We are delighted to welcome Kobi Walsh, an incredible mixed-media, photography artist who specializes in immersive art, to this years exhibitor line up.

Kobi combines Sculpture, Photography and Virtual Reality to create amazing artworks. To understand more about Kobi’s unique practice we asked him a few questions…

When did you begin combining sculpture, photography and virtual reality to create such amazing, vibrant pieces?

Photography has always been my primary medium, but I only recently began delving into some more sculptural work for the first-time during quarantine. During which I was away from my studio, materials, and tools. The Rubble series evolved out of a pull towards natural forms (rocks, debris, broken concrete, etc.) in my immediate environment and attuning to the impermanence of light in relation to these forms in order to cope with the constant internal anxiety and external chaos of the world.

From there I began experimenting with 4k digital video work in order to create a more cohesive, consistent, and scalable visual interpretation of the impermanence of these forms. For me, the next step in exploring these themes was to then delve into the next level of immersion, creating The Archipelago, a fully interactive virtual reality environment with 6 video works from the Rubble series at a scale of 30ft each, where each viewer can explore the environment and experience each piece in a unique way.

How would you say your use of technology in your practice enhances the final product?

I believe the use of technology within my practice exists as a complimentary tool to express similar ideology and themes, but in a way that not all mediums are capable of. For me, my photographic work exists as a very personal, subjective, and immediate interpretation of the impermanence of the world, and my individual view on societal perceptions of mundanity.

My sculptural work exists in order to create a physical, constantly changing manifestation of these themes, where each viewer can create their own unique, subjective interpretation of these forms based on natural factors such as light, time, and perspective.

My video work exists to bridge the gap between these mediums, highlighting the constantly changing individuality of these forms, yet from a fixed condition of light, time, and perspective.

Now most recently my virtual reality work, The Archipelago, exists as a culmination of these mediums, creating a degree of immersion previously impossible for the viewer to step into a virtual world entirely designed to highlight the impermanence and individuality of these constantly changing forms in our everyday environment. I believe that art exists in a similar state of fluidity. If we as artists strive to explore the essence of our inner being, then medium can become transient as long as the work stays true to the authenticity and individuality of our soul.

Would you say the process you use in your artworks paints a picture for what the future of art might look like?

Perhaps towards the cross-dimensionality of mediums in order to communicate a deeper meaning, pairing the physical with virtual creating further immersion into a piece of art. The art world is a notoriously slow-moving, yet the pandemic has forced it into the digital age. It has been forced into adopting digital platforms, mediums, and methods of artistic communication that were previously looked down upon within the fine art community.

I believe that with the forced adoption of digital and technological processes within the art world, immersive mixed-media installation, virtual reality, augmented reality, & mixed reality art will continue to expand within the market due to its scalability, accessibility, and interactivity.

How would you say your art practice has changed over time?

My style has certainly evolved over the years, learning and iterating from various lanes of photography until I ended up where I am today. When I was younger, I started out with a fascination for capturing split second exposures, moving on to exploring the depth of color through stacked exposure images, then to representational landscapes and portraiture focused on natural lighting, progressing to a fascination with abstraction and natural shapes, then eventually transitioning into the current representational unmanipulated works defined by light and my own momentary experience of commonplace subjects. During quarantine my practice began to evolve into the creation of my first immersive interactive VR experience, The Archipelago.

Your artwork is all about the experience of the viewer, how important is the audience in your work?

The audience adds an integral element to the deeper development and subjective experience of my work. My work explores our relationship with organic forms of perceived societal mundanity through fragments of light and time, highlighting the individuality of commonplace subjects when conventional identity is stripped away, yet only form and light remain.

My work explores how we all have our own unique interactions and subjective interpretations of the world around us derived from passing fragments of light so, especially with my sculptural work, the audience is able to develop their own unique experience of each piece based on natural factors of light, weather, and time as the colors and forms of the work change throughout the day.

In my virtual reality work, the experience of the audience is equally important, each viewer having full agency over their movement around the environment, exploring the shifting forms of each individual piece in their own unique way.

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist who would like to delve into one of the many mediums you cover in your work?

Step away from societal expectation, people will always have opinions on what you “should” be doing, trust your gut, don’t let others dictate your vision. Look inward, you are the only one who can find your authentic voice, find what feeds your soul and follow that passion. Don’t be afraid to experiment and push the envelope, when you stray from the common path expect pushback, it is no reflection on yourself and is only a reflection on a collective societal fear of the unknown.

If you are following your authentic voice and continuously looking to improve your practice it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks because there is only one of you on this earth and what you create will be unique. Do your own research and learn what you need to unlearn in order to progress. Life, as with art, is not linear, there will be ebbs and flows of creativity, of inspiration, of motivation, just keep pushing forward, trust yourself and your vision, and you will not fail.

Get your tickets now to see Kobi and hundreds of other great exhibitors at this years The Other Art Fair Chicago!